Powerful acid suppressing proton pump inhibitors, used to treat ulcers, may mask early signs of gastric cancer.
Patients with early gastric cancer often display typical dyspeptic symptoms. Endo scopic investigation can detect whether this problem is an ulcer or whether it is gastric cancer. Unfortunately, the habit of prescribing ulcer drugs before this investigation is done and a definite diagnosis made increases the risk that early cancer may be missed. Rapid control of dyspepsia may lead both patient and practitioner to underestimate the importance of the early symptoms and mask the signs of cancer. Ulcerated lesions may be virtually undetectable if the patient has taken the drug seven to 14 days before the procedure (BMJ, 1998; 317: 1606-7).